In 2004, a broad coalition of people including members of the Racial Profiling Advisory Board, the NAACP, the Kansas Highway Patrol, and religious leaders testified in support of a bill that would have made racial profiling by law enforcement officers a misdemeanor offense by Kansas state law.
Altogether, 21 people testified in support of this law. Only two people spoke out against this bill; Sandy Jacquot, from the League of Kansas Municipalities, and then-Deputy Chief Terri Moses, from the Wichita Police Department.
Moses, who is now one of two candidates being considered for the position of Wichita Chief of Police, testified against HB 2876, stating that she and the department are against racial profiling, but that it was important to maintain “local control” over how racial profiling accusations are handled.
The bill did not pass. Under that local control, no one in the Wichita Police Department has ever been disciplined in any way for racial profiling.
Since 2005, the Racial Profiling Advisory Board has submitted 187 credible allegations of racial profiling to the Professional Standards Bureau of the Wichita Police Department. To date, all 187 cases have been denied by the department, and not one single officer in the state of Kansas has ever been held accountable under the law for racial profiling.
Earlier this week, Moses addressed the public and took questions from the audience at a forum moderated by Wichita City Manager Robert Layton, where citizens came to meet the two candidates for Wichita’s next police chief. Moses made several controversial statements during that forum, stating that the Hispanic community was “difficult to work with”, that disciplining officers is not an effective way to handle police misconduct, and that she would not fire racist police officers, if they were “worth saving”.
The City Manager is expected to make a final decision on which of the two candidates to hire as chief, sometime this month. The other candidate, Joel Fitzgerald, is currently the chief of police in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and is also a finalist for the position of chief in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Djuan Wash, Director of Communications and Community Organizer with Sunflower Community Action, says he does not have confidence in Moses’ ability to lead the department in the changes that the city has promised the community, and says, “In 2004, Terri Moses stood in the way of making racial profiling a crime, in uniform, testifying against HB 2876. In 2015 she proclaimed on camera that she would not fire officers who were found to be racist. I have nothing against Ms. Moses as an individual, I’m certain that she worked hard throughout her 32 year career to get where she is, but Wichita simply cannot afford more of the same.”